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Assam Flood Causes and Consequences | UPSC-APSC | North East India Info

Assam its vast network of rivers is prone to natural disasters like floods and erosion which has a negative impact on the overall development of the state. The Brahmaputra and Barak River with more than 50 numbers of tributaries feeding them, cause the flood devastation in the monsoon period each year. 

The flood and erosion problem of Assam is singularly different from other states so far as extent and duration of flooding and magnitude of erosion is concerned and is probably the most acute and unique in the country. 

The flood prone area of the state as assessed by the Rastriya Barh Ayog (RBA) is 31.05 Lakh Hectares against the total area of state 78.523 Lakh Hectares i.e. about. 39.58 % of the total land area of Assam. 

This is about 9.40% of total flood prone area of the country. Records show that average annual area affected by flood is 9.31 Lakh Hectares. The flood prone area of the country as a whole stands at about 10.2 % of the total area of the country, but flood prone area of Assam is 39.58 % of the area of the state. 

It signifies that the flood prone area of Assam is four times the national mark of the flood prone area of the country. During post-independence period, Assam faced major floods in 1954, 1962, 1972, 1977, 1984, 1988, 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2012. Almost every year three to four waves of flood ravage the flood prone areas of Assam. 

Average annual loss due to flood in Assam is to the tune of Rs. 200.00 Crores and particularly in 1998, the loss suffered was about Rs. 500.00 Crores and during the year 2004 it was about Rs. 771.00 Crores.(source- Water Resources, Government of Assam)

Assam flood

Causes of Flood in Assam 

1. Heavy Rain Fall and Snowmelt Water in Summer: throughout Northeast India, the average rainfall is very high, varying between 100cm to 1300cm. besides about 80% of the annual rainfall comes mainly in the five summer months from May to September. This is also the period when the snow over the Himalayas melt and water therefrom rolls down the rivers to the Brahmaputra valley. The supply of water thus becomes excessive in the rivers and flooding occurs.

2. Location Of the Plains: each of the Brahmaputra and Barak plains surrounded on three sides by high hills and mountains. Whenever there is rainfall in the hills and mountains water rushes down to limited plains from extensive catchment areas, flooding the plains.

3. Low The gradient of the Plains: the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys grade very gently towards their downstream. It is found that the gradient of the Brahmaputra between Sadiya and Dhuburi is 13 cm per km on average. Therefore, excessive rain and snow-melt water flow down very slow causing floods in these plains.

4. Chocking pf the River Channels: the hills and mountains of Himalayas, eastern Arunachal, Nagaland, and North Cachar Hills, Manipur, Mizoram, and Tripura are made of relatively soft tertiary rocks. The heavy monsoons rain that falls on them further softens the materials casing solifluction and sheet erosion down the steep slops. The streams carry these sediment to down slop thus their carrying capacity is reduce  and the sediment deposited on their beds and chocking the channels.

5. Sifting of the River Courses:  the rivers of Assam, especially the ones that come down from the Himalayan and the Tertiary hills change their courses frequently. This is mainly because the rivers carrying enormous quantities of sediments from the hills and on reaching the plain the sediments are deposited on their own beds. The channels thus filled up and the water in the following summers dig out different courses abandoning the earlier once. Besides, the seismic instability of the region also contributes to such shifts.

Consequences Due to Flood:

1. Loss of lives is in thousands. In the past five years, only in 2013, no death was reported due to floods.

2. Loss of animals is also very huge as the area is a biodiversity hot-spot with 5 National Parks and so many species of unique animals.

3. Loss of property is unprecedented, and it is more significant as most of the sufferers of Assam flood are the poor who lose their bare-minimum assets 
like stock of grains, cattle and huts.

4. Loss of Agriculture due to prolong inundation

5. Loss to infrastructure includes damages to houses, dykes, embankments, roads, bridges, schools, anganwadi centers costing hundreds of crores every year.

6. As per Oxfam India, the 2017 flood of Assam has resulted in a loss of over Rs 2939 crores.

7. The aftermath of deluge brings the threat of malnutrition, diarrhea, water-borne diseases like cholera and dysentery, psychological stress and human trafficking. Drinking water and sanitation also remain a challenge

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